One of the biggest talking points out of the FC Dallas camp after Saturday night’s draw with San Jose was the physicality of the match in the last 15 minutes and no one felt that physicality more than right back Zach Loyd.
Never one to shy away from the action, Loyd felt the brunt of San Jose defender Víctor Bernárdez on two occasions late in the match that shaped the thrilling 3-3 draw.
In the first incident, FC Dallas celebrations were muted after Matt Hedges’ 88th-minute goal as Loyd lay nearly motionless in the goal. Replays showed his brave attempt to dive at the rebounded shot resulted in the defender taking a boot from Bernárdez in the side of his head.
“I’m OK, my head’s just a little swollen,” Loyd told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday. “Fortunately, I turned my head and he caught the back of it. I was just trying to score.”
Amazingly, he continued in the match and would find himself again at the center of things on San Jose’s equalizer. Seconds before Lenhart’s header found the back of the next, Loyd, standing on the goal line in front of the forward, seemed to be pushed in the back by Bernárdez, sending him tumbling to the turf.
While the San Jose defender likely won’t be on Loyd’s Christmas card list come December, the Oklahoma native made no excuses after the incident.
“That’s how the box goes with corner kicks,” Loyd said of the incident. “Everyone is mixing it up and trying to get to the ball. It’s frustrating to get pushed down the way I did but that’s part of the game. Sometimes it gets called and sometimes it doesn’t, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just unfortunate that I went down, because I was in a good spot to save the shot of the line.”
Not surprisingly, his coach, Schellas Hyndman, saw the incident a little bit differently.
“The one thing you hope for is people aren’t taking players out to open up space for others and I think that’s what you’re starting to see,” Hyndman said. “On the last goal, Zach Loyd got thrown down pretty hard, and the only person who can deal with that is the linesman or the referee.”
With teams fighting for every inch as the playoff come closer into the rear view mirror, Loyd and FC Dallas must be prepared mentally for the same battle every week if they want to earn the points needed to pass Vancouver for the last playoff spot.
“It’s just something that you have to mentally prepare for,” Loyd said. “There’s going to be pushing and tugging, that’s how every game is. I think it’s just something you have to mentally be prepared for and whatever the referee allows to happen, you have to match their intensity.”